I’ve shared KARA songs with my livestream folks and on my Facebook before, but this one is a bit more interesting, because this song is the first song from the band to feature the new lineup.
This will take a little explaining, so stick with me.
Back when the band first debuted, almost literally no one gave a shit about them, in South Korea or otherwise. While one of the band members, Kim Sung-Hee, left due to parental pressure (and because she was failing school, apparently), Han Seung-yeon, who had left schooling in the US* specifically to try her hand at music, opted to basically go on any television show she could to keep the band relevant while they worked out the kinks.The label, having noted a not-insignificant amount of comparisons to another band under their label, Fin.K.L., opted to change up the two major points of comparison: the fact that both were quarters, and the similar sound. Han, Nicole Jung and Park Gyuri were joined by Goo Ha-ra and Kang Ji-young, and given more of a cute, pop-friendly bent; while their first record, The First Blo(oooooo)ming**, presented the band as strong ladies, the second record made them over as happy teenager-types, and did a whole fucking lot better. After another record of pop-oriented “girly” tracks with a couple of random R&B tunes thrown in, the group basically decided to go back to what they started with: experimental pop/R&B music. Since they were already in like Flynn with the record buying crowd, this went a lot better the second time around, and they were basically set insofar as popularity went.
Then, in 2011, most of the band basically threw a lawsuit at their parent company, DSP Media, claiming (essentially) that they were overworked and underpaid. DSP Media had, in fairness, pushed them into the Japanese market, and while that meant “Yay more fans, money and markets,” it also meant, “Boo, more recording, touring and promoting.” DSP Media, for their part, said “Nuh-uh,” and said they’d paid each member 300,000,000 won, or about $265,000 according to today’s exchange rate, for their work. I say “most of the band” because Park didn’t have anything to do with the suit at all, and Goo dropped out of said suit almost immediately because she wasn’t aware of the details until after it was filed. The suit was resolved three months after it was started, and you’d think that’d be the end of it, since the three ladies involved in the suit got whatever it was they agreed on, and the other two were happy otherwise.
Not so, as in 2014, the band’s contracts came up for renewal. Park and Goo signed off without an issue, as you’d expect, and interestingly enough, Han also signed back on without a problem; the fact that the label would hold onto the dissenting members is only slightly more amusing than the fact that Han apparently had no issues signing back on when presented the chance to do so since she’d been a part of the suit in the first place***. However, two of the suit members, Nicole and Kang, basically opted to hold off, with Nicole citing that she wanted to remain with the group but wanted to be represented by a different company (which is sort of like saying you want to wrestle for WWE but be signed to TNA), while Kang honestly just wanted to do something else for a while. You’d think that’d be the end of the group, since that’s usually the case, but KARA are pretty damn popular in South Korea, so DSP went a different direction: they set up a fucking reality TV show to find the next Kara member, turned the group into a quartet again, and went back to work.
The single above is the result, and it’s still pretty good in relation to their other singles. The one thing I find especially funny about it, though, is that unlike prior videos, where Park was the focal point and the other girls were given good screen time, this video is all about Park and Han. I don’t know if there’s a reason for this, but it’s amusing if you care entirely too much about dumb shit, which I absolutely do.
* Specifically in Tenafly, NJ, which marks two notable Asian musicians who spent time in New Jersey before going on to international stardom. This, for reference, is a small part of why I like KARA when most other K-Pop bands haven’t resonated. Fuck you, I’ll take what I can get.
** Technically it’s The First Blooming, but the actual cover has like ten O’s on it. I have no idea.
*** On the other hand, Han was also, as noted above, the only member of the original group to bust her ass trying to keep the band afloat, and the only member of the band with anything approaching serious pipes. Park (as the leader) and Han were probably the only two members of the group who were “indispensable” within the confines of the view of management. Also, Han is also basically the member of the band fans care the absolute least about, considering her Wikipedia page doesn’t even have an image on it, among other things, so it was probably in her best interests to stay, best singer or not.